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Richmond Professor, Son of Civil Rights Icon, Dies

Oliver Hill seated
Oliver Hill Jr. spoke with David P. Cline in Petersburg, Virginia in 2013 for a Library of Congress oral history interview. (Photo courtesy: Library of Congress)

*Patrick Larsen reported this story

Dr. Oliver Hill Jr., a professor of psychology and Richmond native, died earlier this week. Hill taught cognitive psychology at Virginia State University until last year.

As a Black student in 1950s and ‘60s Virginia, Hill experienced segregation - as well as racist policies against integration known as Massive Resistance.

Hill  shared his experiences with desegregation during an interview at the Library of Congress in 2013.

“I can remember one friend of mine who wasn’t allowed in Chandler, which was the white junior high school, because Graves, which was the Black school, was three feet closer to his house than Chandler,” Hill said.

His father, civil rights lawyer Oliver Hill, represented students in Brown v. Board of Education. The U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on that case desegregated schools nationwide.

“I wanted to go to one of the Black schools with all my friends. But, you know, it was interesting that it was inevitable, based on what my father was doing,” Hill  said.

Hill said his upbringing taught him to fight for justice. He pushed for true integration in academia throughout his career.